Legends and Myths about Tenerife

Leyendas sobre Tenerife

Tenerife is a beautiful island that fascinates not only beacuse of its history and culture, but also the amazing canarian myths and legends. Here is a collection of the most interesting stories about the islands that many ancient authors such as Homer, Horace, Plato, Plutarch and Ptolemy called “The Paradise“, Champs Elysees, The Gardens of the Hesperides or Islands of Happiness.

  • One of these legends says that Tenerife is part of the lost city of Atlantis – the mythical land which dissapeared under the water in IX millennium BC. Scientists say that the pyramids which were found in the Canaries confirm this hypothesis and suggest that Tenerife and the other islands belong to the area of this lost culture. Another evidence can be the fact that the original inhabitants of the island mummified the corpses and made trepanation of the skull like the Aztecs and Mayans did.

Legends about El Teide in Tenerife

  • According to other legends, the first inhabitants of the islands, the Guanches, believed that on the top of Teide lived Demon called Guayota, who kidnapped Magec – the god of sun – and put him inside the crater. That’s why the island was plunged into the darkness. Then people started to beg for help Achaman – god of heaven. He listened their requests, freed the sun and closed the volcano which stopped to erupt.

  • Another one is about unusual trees that are growing in Tenerife. Legends tell that in the island was living Ladon – a dragon with 100 heads who guarded the golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides. The dragon was killed by Heracles, from his blood grew beautiful trees with twisted branches resemble dragon’s head and these are called “dragon trees” (Dracaena drago). When this tree is cut, comes out a dark liquid called dragon’s blood, and is often used for medical purposes. These trees grow slowly, but they live hundreds of years. In the island grows one which probably has around 1,000 years.

  • History of Gara and Jonay. It is a beautiful legend about Guanche people. Gara was a very beautiful princess from La Gomera. She fell in love with Jonay, who also came from the royal family, one of the kings of Tenerife. Jonay swam using inflated goat’s hides from Tenerife to La Gomera to meet with his love. However their parents, frightened by the smoking volcano Teide, took it as a bad omen and objected to the relationship. Gara and Jonay fled together to the highest mountain on the island, but they were tracked down and surrounded by the warriors. When they realized that they couldn’t escape, in a last desperate act they sharpend a stick at both ends, held it between their chests, and in a final embrance they drove the stick through their hearts, killing themselves. Today that mountain and the National Park is called Garajonay in memory of the young couple who chose death rather than living apart.

  • Also, one of the dishes is associated with a touching legend. Ropa vieja is a dish whose name does not sound appetizing, and literally means “old rags”. The story is about a poor man who, not having what to feed his family, cut to pieces of his old clothes and served like dinner. However, in preparing the “meal” he puts so much love that rags turned into delicious beef.

  • There is also interesting legend about an eighth „spectrum” island which belong to the Canary archipelago. Its name is San Borondon from the name of an Irish monk St. Brendan from Clonfert, who was also called Brendan The Sailor. This monk during a sea expedition reached a certain island which abound with all goods. Apparently, along with his companions spent there a few years, then returned to Ireland. Later many sailors tried to reach the island, but without any result. Many people also said that they saw in the distance the edges of island, but when they came closer it disappeared. Apparenly San Borondon was also seen from the top of Teide.

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